By: Terri Jones, Hyland government marketing portfolio manager
For generations, our school districts have relied on paper in most facets of their operations, from those homework assignments that your dog ate to the student records that prove somehow you got through school and graduated. Today, K-12 students and parents hold more technology in their hands than I saw in my entire college career. In this environment, schools face pressure to modernize technology, and district leaders may struggle to respond with stagnant budget and staffing levels.
Budget pressures seem to be a constant for public education and it can certainly have a discouraging effect on their ability to embrace new technologies. The most important purpose of schools – educating our children – should get the most attention and budget, but what happens if the costs of administration continue to squeeze that priority?
That’s where enterprise content management (ECM) can help school districts survive and meet expectations for a connected workforce, student body and parent community. ECM is the one technology that can address reactive needs while proactively addressing costs, workload and efficiency.
Here’s three ways that ECM can change the cost equation, improve efficiency and transform to the electronic world that our kids may understand better than we do:
Turn the tide on ever-rising physical file storage costs
Student records have to be kept and preserved, and this burden increases with each new entering class. How is your district managing these costs? How could you reallocate these funds if you could eliminate the burden and staff time used filing and storing these records? With ECM, you can eliminate all those costs while securing records for the future.
Automate to survive
ECM offers workflow automation and electronic forms. These tools not only eliminate process lags, they allow you to span multiple locations, alert staff to work tasks and enforce deadlines. And with an integration to Outlook, these tasks can even be completed from within your email. With work moving electronically, you have better process transparency and eliminate couriers and physical mail moving between buildings.
A significant complexity of running a school district lies with the compliance responsibilities that dictate everything from human resources to the use of state and grant funding. Your compliance is undermined if documents go missing or there isn’t enough staff to manage processes. With ECM, staff are automatically reminded of important tasks like background checks or renewal of certifications and credentials. ECM can secure required documentation and remind staff when tasks haven’t been completed, supporting your compliance needs and helping to preserve vital outside funding.
One platform to support, one platform to transform
It’s all well and good to say that the answer is more technology, but that doesn’t help if your district has a stretched or small IT staff. The good news is that the right ECM features security, integration, capture, mobile and remote access, and workflow. So, in one platform, you have the features you need to address cost, staff efficiency, parents’ demands, compliance and more. And, your stretched IT staff have a single platform to support – one that you can build on to work toward the full set of technology tools your school needs.
If I could assign required reading for school districts, I would suggest some research into enterprise content management and the ECM solutions that offer complete feature sets. Going paperless answers so many of the challenges facing school districts. And, if homework goes paperless, your dog can’t eat it.